Over 97% of teachers have one or more computers in their classroom, and over 75% of high school students use personal devices regularly in class. With its abundance, why do teachers who regularly use technology at home hesitate to integrate it into their curricula?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 97% of teachers have one or more computers in the classroom each day, and on an average, there is one computer for every five students in the United States. In addition to school provided technology, over 75% of high school students use their own phone or tablet regularly in class.

The technology is there. Not having access to technology is no longer a barrier to instructional transformation. However, in this day and age, using the technology is not enough. We must change our teaching to reflect the skills needed for media literacy. Students need to develop skills that encourage them to collaboratively work together to create, critique and compare resources and communications, and they need to be able to do it through written text, video, audio and images.

Teachers are provided with school, district and state standards, the Common Core State Standards and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for teachers, students and administrators! All the standards I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot of them, focus on higher level 21st century literacy skills.

If this is the case, then why are so many teachers using technology as supplemental materials, rewards and independent work areas? Teachers are Integrating Technologyusing technology to simplify their job, but not increase student learning. So why are teachers using technology but not integrating it?

Because technology is used in most households, using it in the classroom has become more common place. Teachers regularly email parents, use search engines for lesson plans or content information and employ record keeping through their school learning management system. Many have interactive white boards and computers set up for writing or software activities. And while all of these activities are fine, they do not constitute integrating technology.

Integrating technology is purposeful. It supports learning goals, facilitates collaboration and cooperation and encourages students to question information and to increase their knowledge. Integrating technology requires a shift in how teachers teach. It isn’t a separate class period or extra content. It should be one with your classroom environment.

Researchers have identified two basic barriers that keep teachers from integrating technology: external factors and internal factors (Ryan, 2015), also known as primary and secondary obstacles (Herold, 2015). External factors include the nature of the technology and the lack of training and tech support. While these are definitely factors that can deter a teacher, they are common factors when working with technology in general. Teachers need training; teachers need exploration time; teachers need tech support. Many teacher education programs introduce new teachers to different technologies, but they should also be modeling the integration of that technology as they teach.

The internal factors are barriers with the teachers themselves. Herold (2015) states many teachers who regularly use technology at home hesitate to integrate it into the classroom because they are reluctant to change how they teach or because it doesn’t coincide with their belief on what constitutes effective instruction. Some, despite using it at home, do not have the confidence to apply it to their teaching.

So what do we do? Professional development training and workshops are a start. But it isn’t enough to merely teach the technology. Rather, training should focus on how the technology will be integrated, how skills, strategies and critical thinking are enhanced through its use, and ultimately how it is a tool to meet content goals.

Early adopters, fellow educators who are taking the leap, can be your best source. Many times, all it takes is one other coworker to be on-board. Working in pairs or groups gives you time to share and reflect, even if it’s over a fifteen minute lunch. Reflection is truly the key to success for completely transforming instruction and never going back to old ways. Share your successes, ideas, triumphs and defeats. Slowly more teachers will see what you’re doing, ask questions and see that they too can jump on board and take a chance. Support one another!

Where to start? Integrate the Internet!


Integrate the Internet! A Lesson Idea on Sharks (Everyone Loves Sharks!)

There are thousands (millions?) of resources literally a click away. Look what you can do with the Internet and a book! Consider combining science and literacy in a guided reading group, whole class instruction or in a workshop format for one day or one week. Adapt it to your needs and schedule!

With these lessons, the objective is to use visual literacy as a comprehension strategy. While visual literacy is not a new area of study, it is becoming more significant since we live in such a visually stimulating era. Braden and Hortin (1982) define visual literacy as “the ability to understand and use images, including the ability to think, learn and express oneself in terms of images.” Using visuals provides additional information and is a powerful learning tool!

  • Introduce a book such as Octopuses! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle.
  • Besides pointing out the adjectives in the title and text features such as the picture dictionary and index, have students look at the details in the illustrations.
  • On a lap top, individual i-Pads, or tablets, or even through a projector, show a brief video of a shark swimming in the same habitat as the book illustrations.
  • Ask students to look at the video to either validate the illustrator’s pictures or contradict them.

Either as a group or individually, create a chart to illustrate the similarities and differences between the two. For older students, Google docs can be a space where all students can contribute to the same chart at the same time. Teams can also be used as a source of competition!

Environment Traits of sharks Other fish


  • After reading the book, visualize life as a shark. What imagery can students create with their words? Create a chart for words relating to the senses- from the book and the video. Which source provided more insight to the world as a shark?
See Hear Smell Touch Taste


  • Choose some poems about sharks, or, better yet, have your students find them using a student-safe search engine. Poetry shark-305004_640Soup is a website filled with student created poetry. Read closely, analyze and interpret figurative language and structure. Give students opportunities to use deductive reasoning and decide the characteristics of poetry.
  • Finally, students can begin writing their own poetry about sharks. They can apply their understanding of sharks, imagery and poetic structure. After going through the writing process, they can publish authentically on the class website, blog, wiki, Google Docs or through a template such as Read Write Think.



Can you count the standards in this lesson?

Science? Writing? Literacy? Informational text? Vocabulary? Structure? Inferences? Comparing? They go on and on and on!

This same activity can be done with many different age levels, simply change the level of the text and the expectations of the complexity of the responses.


Booksource wants to hear from you. How do you integrate the Internet?



Braden, R. A., & Hortin, J. A. (1982). Identifying the theoretical foundations

of visual literacy. Journal of Visual Verbal Languaging, 2(2), 37–51.

Herold, B. (2015, June 10). Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach. Retrieved August 11, 2015, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/11/why-ed-tech-is-not-transforming-how.html

Ryan, T., & Bagley, G. (2015). Nurturing the Integration of Technology in Education. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 11(1), 33-50.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2010). Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: 2009 (NCES 2010-040).